Friday, September 12, 2008

My last swim

My best time going into prelims was 5:03. That time would have put me in finals. My time today was a 5:09. That put me 11th. As I got up on the blocks I saw that a girl in the heat ahead of me had gotten DQ'd. She was one of the ones ahead of me in the rankings and I thought, this is my chance. The 1st 200 went well but then my body and my muscles got tight and I slowed down. I was ranked 3rd in my heat and could see a girl across the pool getting close to me. I tried to hold her off but it didn't work. I came in 4th on my heat and knew right away that my time wouldn't be fast enough for finals.

I am disappointed. I knew medaling was going to be tough but I thought for sure I would make finals and even more sure that I would get 3 best times. I only got a best time in 1 event. This just wan't my meet. Trials was, this wasn't.

I am trying to put it all in perspective since my main goal was just to make it here to Beijing. I am here and swam on the biggest athletic stage I've ever been on. I'll take the memories of it all back to the states with me. Opening ceremonies, the village, my AWESOME cheering section, wearing the USA uniform, the great swims of my teammates... I will carry them all with me and they can only make be stronger on whatever I decide to pursue next. Everyone here has the dream of standing on the medal podium hearing their national anthem. I've dreamed it a hundred times. Maybe it will happen for me somewhere down the road, Beijing just wasn't my time.

After my race I got to see Dick and my family. I've never wanted and needed a hug from Dick and my family so badly. The tears flowed from all of us and it was with a mixture of emotions. For me, it was mostly disappointment in myself and my times but also that the journey to and in Beijing is over for me. It has been an unforgettable one filled with both ups and downs and I would do it all over again. But hopefully with better results this time...:)

I had so much support here. 20 incredible family and friends that came all the way here to see me swim (and check out the sights of China..) I am trying not to feel bad that they didn't even get to see me swim in finals. But it is what it is...

There are 3 days left of swimming and I will be there to cheer on my teammates. After that we get a day off before closing ceremonies. We get to go with our families to see the city so I'll be out with my parents for the day. I'm sure we'll see the Great Wall and hopefully I'll get to see the some of the city and try some authentic Chinese food. I am looking forward to that.

SO, my time swimming in the cube is over. I wish I could go back and redo all my swims but that'll have to be done in my head. When I take a bigger look at things which will get easier as the days go on, I am still honored to have worn the USA uniform over here and be part of Team USA. This has been an incredible experience and I am proud to have made it this far.

GO USA!

12 comments:

Mama Ava said...

Melissa,

Remember that for those of us who love you, just seeing you in the pool, just knowing you, brings us so much pride. You have always had such a positive influence on those around you and such a humble way about your own abilities and talents. It is a very special balance to have such high expectations for yourself, to have such focused desire, yet have so much energy and enthusiasm for your teammates. As someone who knew you when you were just a kid I can tell you that today that I am proud to be able to say I know you. Enjoy your last days in Beijing with your family.

Coach Hillman

Ann&Bob said...

In our hearts you are on that podium just for being the courageous woman you are. Your ability to shine through hardship is admirable.

Go Melissa!
Love,Ann

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT said...

Melissa,

You've made us all very proud here, and showed wounded warriors everywhere that there is no limit to what can they can achieve, if they put their mind to it.

Congratulations on a great paralympic games!

Sincerely,

Wounded Warrior Project
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
blog: http://woundedwarriorproject.blogspot.com

Stephanie said...

Mel,

I don't know that I could have said it any better than the three that have already posted. You are a hero to so many of us and you have proven that you can do ANYTHING if you have the drive and determination. I can only WISH to have even 1% of all that you have. We love you so much and we are all so proud of you for taking on this great challenge and doing an amazing job!!! I wish I was there to give you a hug...but know that there will be a great big one for you the next time I see you!
Love, Steph

Rick Neal said...

Melissa,
You have endured and prevailed. Every Vet, and every American can look to you for inspiration. Please enjoy your time in Beijing.
Congrats on a job well done!

Rick
Sandy Hook, NJ

InsideEdgePR said...

Melissa,
Kudos on giving it your all and sharing your experience with such class and dignity. What a champion you are, in and out of the pool!
-Matt Baron

The Strand's said...

Melissa:

Thank you for serving, and thank you for your constant inspiration to so many! You are a champion and we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet you at Katie & Zane's reception! Whatever direction you choose after this remarkable endeaver we know you will be successful! Thank you again and God Bless you!

JR & Mary Strand
Missoula, Montana

Brittany M. said...

I just learned about you and happened to find your blogspot...congrats on you all do and the American pride you have. Not only are you representing the US well, but women officers and athletes too. I'm inspired and impressed. Enjoy your time in Beijing. Maybe I'll get to meet you at a race someday.
Brittany
(Army CPT, OIF 2 and OIF 06-08 vet)

26MiToGo said...

Melissa,
I know how getting your heart & dreams set on achieving such a high goal makes it a huge disappointment when you don't achieve the outcome you’ve worked so hard for. But after a little time & the opportunity to think about it a bit more you'll see, appreciate, & honor the huge accomplishment & success you DID have. You'll see it & yourself like the rest of us do – as a remarkable person with a strong, fun spirit that achieved something amazing.

You were put on this earth to do something no one else can do the way you can & to help mankind in your own special way so there's something of service you offer to all of humanity with or without the medal. Such a tiny fraction of people ever make it as far as you have, never having the honor of competing on such a grand scale, & fewer yet stand on the podium with a medal around their neck. You've been an incredible inspiration to so many throughout your "losses" that I see this as just one more area you continue to be that inspiration. People who set high goals for themselves more often than not don't reach them, especially on the 1st try. Each of us defines whether our outcomes are a "win" or a "loss". Personally, I'd define what you’ve done as a BIG WIN!

The disappointment is temporary – you’re inspiration for so many continues. If I remember correctly, it was a long shot for you to even qualify for Beijing. But you never let that deter you from trying. THAT’s what I see as your gold medal win. How many people never attempt something they’d love to try simply because they’re afraid they won’t reach the goal. Fear of failure never stopped you ... I doubt it ever will.

From the little girl who used to chew her nails to nubs on the gymnastics floor to a national competitor in swimming ... WOW! Congratulations, you're a gold medalist in our eyes!

Bob, Jeanie, Robyn Grace

Pamela said...

Melissa,

It is so fun to read about your time in China and to see you on NY Times website! I know you are disappointed in the results but I also know that those feelings will motivate you in your next endeavor (Do I hear London Calling?=).

You are such an inspiration to so many. Your unfailing commitment to yourself and your country is remarkable in the face of so many trials and tribulations. All that with your great attitude, smile, and funny stories make you so much fun to be around. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We are all better for knowing you.

Take care!
Pam Smith

ELynch said...

Congrats on a huge acheivment and keeping your head high. You will look back months from now be able to tell a great tale of your journeys and back. As they say in South America: A loh echo, pecho. It is what it is and you take the best from it. Here´s to seeing stars and reaching for them!!

Animal Bridges said...

Melissa,

I followed you journey from the first email that your cousin, Suzy S. received about your leg. You are awesome and rock for all you have done. Remember you are daily touching people's lives and making them better. You chose a career to help others who face the same journey and told your story to Bob Woodruff! Yes I know your goal was the Olympics. You have done so much more. I and many others are so blown away with your spirit, drive, and love of life! We are proud of you! Don't ever doubt it.
Elaine, Minneapolis